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Death By CultureNorio Ohga Father of the CD
POSTED BY VINNIE BLESI, May 7, 2011    Share

In today's technology savvy world, with high def, blu-rays and digital content, it is easy to forget the impact that the release of the first audio compact disc (or "CD") eventually had on our lives. Although the CD technology was developed by Phillips, it was Sony's renaissance man CEO, Norio Ohga who championed the new technology releasing the first audio CD in 1982. It was Ohga who insisted that a single CD hold 75 minutes of music, so it could accommodate the entire Beethovenís Ninth Symphony.

Norio Ohga passed away of natural causes at the age of 81 on April 23rd, leaving behind a legacy at Sony that not only included his passion for improved audio via the CD, but other projects he oversaw, including "The Walkman" and the original "Sony Playstation". Although criticized at times for his vision of acquiring content that included the purchase of Columbia Studios he saw that content would be tied to future delivery via digital devices, although those devices were not even developed yet (my personal assumption).

The reason I am so fascinated with Mr. Ohga is that he was not a businessman. A trained opera singer he originally approached Sony about improving the quality of their classical music releases back in the 1950's and was eventually hired as a consultant. As a Sony consultant he originally worked with Phillips in developing the compact cassette (you kids can google compact cassette). He was also a trained pilot and occasionally tried his hand at conducting classical orchestras and still dabbled in opera singing after his retirement from Sony.

In 1982 I was a confirmed analog vinyl fanatic. To this day I still assert that there are advantages to old-fashioned vinyl records (you kids can google vinyl records), which is why club dj's still spin vinyl. The problem with vinyl records is that after so many plays you will get pops and scratches. The lifespan of a CD is much longer.

Some early releases of CD's that I have are not that good. I think they played the album and recorded it and burned it on CD's. But eventually technology caught up to the CD medium as recordings became digital and the recording industry got better at transforming old analog recordings to digital formats due to software advances.

The vision and passion of Norio Ohga has come to full fruition today. We have well-recorded CD's of high quality. And as a bonus we have digital content and other digital options available to us, that would've never been possible without Ohga's constant pursuit of improved audio quality. Plus, he was ahead of his time in acquiring content as opposed to just being a hardware manufacturer.

"Death By Culture" is ©2011 by Vinnie Blesi. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.

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